1. Design your assessments to be quick to mark in large quantities.
This doesn’t mean that you should make really short assessments – rather be aware that you’re going to have to mark a ton of these so let’s set up a few things to make that easier.
A. After each problem, write out what the question was.
Well of course you would do this, but what saves me lots of time is writing it out in a particular way. For example, if the question was out of 5 marks, I wouldn’t write /5, instead I write 0 1 2 3 4 5. It is so much quicker for me to go through and draw a slash through the 3 than it is for me to write out the number 3. Ridiculous though it may sound, when you’re marking 60+ 6-page tests this time really adds up!
B. If doing matching questions, use a phrase to make the process quicker.
I will sometimes use a made up phrase or acronym to make matching quicker to mark. For example, I think of the stellar classification chart OBAFGKM (this could be the solution). Maybe not easy to see if you’re not an astronomy buff, but these 7 letters has a phrase associated with it to help you remember: Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me. Now you’ve got a phrase that the students don’t think anything of, but you can look at quickly to see if they’ve matched correctly. I will sometimes use this or a made up phrase in a different language so that I don’t have to check each question individually, I just have to search for that phrase.
2. Mark using Mr. Sketch markers or erasable pens.
Because I use the slash through their mark on each question I enjoy using Mr. Sketch markers when marking some of my students’ work. It’s quick, it’s colorful and honestly, the smell keeps me in a good mood! I color code depending on the category I am marking which makes it easy to add up later on. Also, it is fun to see kids smelling their tests before they even look at how well they did!
Feedback that is too long to write in marker I use erasable pens for. Again, you can color code the comments as we know some students are sensitive to colors (my former self included!).
3. Have a buddy who can encourage you.
I am lucky enough to work with my sister among a wealth of other amazing colleagues. When time is short and report cards are looming sometimes you just need someone to kick your marking motivation into high gear! Let them know what you have on your plate and that you need some encouragement. Plan to have a marking party in the staff room and both agree not to leave until you’re done. Bring snacks and some good music and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can crank out those assessments!